You’ve probably heard the phrase, Online education should be about the learning interaction, not the technology. However, managing instructor presence and fostering a community online is easier said than done when one is developing courses in different platforms, teaching, grading, researching, lecturing, etc.
So how does one create an online connection with her students? Simply searching this topic provides several approaches and tips. This may sound great but hard to implement, especially in a short period of time, so here is a list of five easy solutions to get you started. The following are based on faculty feedback and the resources below.
- Create Meet Your Instructor and Course Tour videos to initiate social and cognitive presence and orient students to your expectations. Request time in ASU Online’s New Media Studio to create your videos.
- Post regular announcements to increase social presence and interaction. Students like knowing that you are actively participating in the course.
- Present information in a variety of ways, not just text. For example:
- Try creating a mini-lecture using screencasting software, such as Camtasia Relay (free for ASU Online faculty). Embed your video within the course page to keep students focused on the material.
- Produce a podcast to reinforce learning outcomes and/or experiment by creating audio announcements with simple tools like AudioPal.
- Create a billboard to present an idea using a free, online photo editor, such as PicMonkey.
- Create a Word Cloud to emphasize key themes.
- Embed simple PDFs, Docs or PPTs rather than creating a page of links or use Google Drive to collaborate with students.
- Encourage student interaction. Try one or all of the following:
- Create stimulating discussions by asking questions that do not have a “simple” answer. For example: Embed a video about a current event in relation to the topic, and ask questions that require considering the situation from a different perspective. Keep in mind, you are not expected to respond to every discussion post. Instead, consider creating an announcement to correct any misconceptions, expand the topic and to highlight the discussion.
- Customize your roster, and post it in an Introductions discussion board. One way to do this is by creating a single post or a shared Google document listing student-submitted background information, and lead discussions in later units that connect students to common themes in their professional lives.
- Create a VoiceThread, which allows students the option of responding to the presented material via text, voice or video.
- Monitor progress. For example:
- Provide timely feedback within 48 hours, and contact students who fall behind. This lets them know if they are on the right track and helps to manage any anxieties about the course.
- Maintain virtual office hours. Add your availability in your syllabus and the Meet Your Instructor section. Include times you may be available by phone/email/chat/Google+ Hangouts.
- Acknowledge good work by applauding students who made excellent points in a discussion board post or post an announcement.
- 10 Ways To Enhance Instructor Presence in Online Programs, Lauren Wright & Courtney Moke: http://www.deltak-innovation.com/
- Balancing Act: Managing Instructor Presence and Workload When Creating an Interactive Community of Learners: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/balancing-act-managing-instructor-presence-and-workload-when-creating-an-interactive-community-of-learners/
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